For the second game this week, the Michigan State Spartans completely overmatched their opponent and scored in triple digits in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2004-05 season when they did it against Wisconsin- Green Bay (104) and Nicholls State (102).
The Spartans were again elite from the field against Long Beach State by shooting 61 percent from the field, the second highest mark they have recorded this season.
What can we takeaway from the Spartans’s 42 point victory over the 49ers.
What We Learned:
1. Turnovers will be the downfall of the Spartans.
The turnovers that Michigan State has been committing throughout the season has shifted from a hiccup into a problem. There are not many negatives that you can find with the Spartans, but the turnovers are certainly one of them.
Michigan State has been committed 187 total turnovers through its first 13 games, averaging to just over 14 per contest. Those numbers are in line with the 12 turnovers that the Spartans committed against Long Beach State on Thursday night.
Though there have been players that have been guilty of being on the bad end of turnovers more than others but for the most part, the carelessness of the basketball has been a team effort. Against Long Beach State, six different players turned the ball over. More than half of them (Cassius Winston (two), Nick Ward (two), Josh Langford (two), Tum Tum Nairn (three), had multiple turnovers.
Michigan State can survive against the “cupcakes” on their schedule, especially when they are passing the century mark on multiple occasions. However, come March Michigan State can’t survive averaging 14 turnovers per game.
2. Michigan State is finally getting a consistent Nick Ward.
A new low in Nick Ward’s Michigan State career occurred a couple weeks ago when he was benched for all but one minute in the second half of a 10-point victory at Rutgers. For a player that was snubbed for the All Big Ten Freshman Team last season, a player like Ward should not be sat for that long if he is not in foul trouble. However, he was and it was nobody’s fault but his.
Through all of the offensive dominance Ward has garnered in the paint and on the glass, the one downfall in his game has been the lack of consistency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That is why he was bench. The intensity and the effort were not up to Tom Izzo’s standards. That sent a message to ward and since then he has answered the call.
If not for a fadeaway shot at the end of the first half against Long Beach State Thursday, Ward has been perfect from the field (16 of 17) since the second half of Michigan State’s game against Oakland. He is once again becoming a juggernaut big-man in college basketball. Yet, his offensive production is outdone by his defensive intensity over the last week...especially Thursday night.
Ward’s defense on ball screens, strength in the post, and communication overall over the past week has been its best since he suited up in the green and white. And that bodes well for Michigan State. The more Ward can be as consistent as he had been this past week, the more Izzo will keep him on the floor.
3. Michigan State’s distribution is canny.
The amount of offensive power of this Spartan team is simply disgusting. For the second straight game, Michigan State scored over 100 points when they dropped 102 against Long Beach State. Not a single player scored over 20 points. However, five players finished in double digits.
That is the difference with this Michigan State team and any other top 10 team in the country. There is not a single-dominant player on the Spartans. They are simply a dominant team. You can try to take out Bridges, but then Winston will hit a couple three-pointers. You can try to take out Ward, then you leave room open for Jaren Jackson Jr.
Dan Monson, coach of the 49ers, put it the best way you could. “It is you have to pick your poison,” said Monson after the game.
A 42-point win against Long Beach State is nothing to “ooh” and “aah” about. Scoring over 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time in 13 years is. After an above average month of Novemeber, the Spartans have two games left in December against Cleveland State and Savannah State to continue to clean up any issues they may have before they re-enter conference play.